International Dance Day is a moment in the calendar where everyone is invited to take part in an extremely enjoyable pastime, the art of dance, which is one of the earliest and longest-standing forms of entertainment and community activity known to humankind. Dance is one of the ultimate activities to destress, lose inhibitions, meet new people, and boost physical health. Even those with two left feet can take part in this annual tradition that encapsulates people around the globe, from professional dancers to individuals that would usually stand well back.
History of Dance Day
The art of dance has been a central ingredient in human life for at least 9,000 years, with everyone from tribespeople to professional entertainers showcasing their talents. Dance Day aims to celebrate a world of dance and encourages participants of all ability levels to take part in this true global celebration that breaks down barriers to bring people together. Every dance is welcomed with open arms from traditional ceremonial dances like the Haka, Rejang dance, and Kagura to modern street dance and jumpstyle electronic dance. It includes dances that are steeped in heritage as well as contemporary styles that borrow attributes from various sources.
Dance Day celebrates the free and unrestricted nature of dance, as well as the concepts of working together and celebrating cultural differences while also realizing that we are all united. Kizomba, jazz dance, American rhythm, Latin, ballet, and country dances can be enjoyed on the day by solo dancers, duets, small groups, or huge collectives. Dance is one of the best ways to introduce people to other traditions and can help people connect to others. The annual event serves as the flag-bearer for all of those features and more.
While the history of dance goes back thousands of years, the official Dance Day ceremonies only launched in 1982. The annual celebration is for amateurs and professionals, encouraging participants to enjoy their favorite styles and routines while simultaneously broadening their knowledge by embracing other dances and cultures. Dance Day itself is organized by Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), who are partnered to UNESCO. Each year’s celebration (excluding 1983; they were probably out watching Flashdance) includes a message from a special guest of honor. The inaugural message was provided by Henrik Neubauer, while other guests throughout the years have included Chetna Jalan, Germaine Acogny, Murray Lewis, Kazuo Ohno, Stephen Page, Sasha Waltz, Lin Hwai-min, and Trisha Brown.
Dance Day’s flagship event is a ceremonial gala held by the Executive Council of the International Theatre Institute. The venue for this showpiece ceremony changes each year, but the celebrations as a whole can be enjoyed by anybody, anywhere. The concept that dance is for everyone is the focal point in everything that the day stands for.
How to celebrate Dance Day
When looking for ways to enjoy Dance Day, the best advice comes from Lady Gaga. Just dance! Thousands of performances and hardcore dance fans may flock to the country of the Gala each year, but the whole point of the event is that it can be enjoyed by everyone in their own way. For members that are part of a group or class, this is the perfect to put on an event at the local hall or even on the street. Street performances can attract a lot of donations, especially when the Dance Day celebrations are promoted – just remember that sharing $100 between five people is a lot more enjoyable than splitting it between 43.
Ultimately, though, everyone has their personal relationship with the art of dance. There are literally no limitations to how Dance Day can be celebrated. Even individuals stuck at home can partake in the experiences of the day. Reading up on the traditions of a dance online can be supported by watching the latest addition to the Step Up franchise or learning new dance moves via video tutorials. The event is a great excuse to watch a local show or invest in new dance shoes too. After all, the true success of the event is that it encourages people to take dance more seriously in their day-to-day lives.
Whether the celebrations are enjoyed alone or with others, it’s never a bad idea to tune into the streams of the ceremony, or at least catch up on them later on. Another top tip for performers is to record some dances on this day and then revisit them next year. The progress that can be made in 12 months is mind-blowing.